From 2007 to 2012, 200 American corporations spent about $5.8 billion on federal lobbying and campaign contributions, but that number is mere chump change when compared to what those same corporations got in return — about $4.4 trillion in federal business and support, according to a study by the Sunlight Foundation.
Sunlight examined “influence and its potential results on federal decision makers” for six years, three before the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling and three after, focusing on the records of 200 for-profit companies with active political action committees and lobbyists.
“Their investment was enormous,” read the report. “There were 20,500 paying lobbying clients over the six years we examined; the 200 companies we tracked accounted for a whopping 26 percent of the total spent. On average, their PACs, employees and family members made campaign contributions to 144 sitting members of Congress each [election] cycle.”
An analysis of 14 million records on campaign contributions, lobbying expenditures, federal budget allocations and spending found that, on average, “for every dollar spent on influencing politics, the nation’s most politically active corporations received $760 [$4.4 trillion total] from the federal government,” which accounts for “two-thirds of the $6.5 trillion that individual taxpayers paid into the federal treasury.”
And as the American middle class all but collapsed completely during those six years, the 200 companies studied kept getting ridiculous returns on their political investments, including loans to the failing auto industry and banks that were ‘too big to fail,’ expansions of federal programs that “help prop up prices for agribusinesses and secure trade deals for our biggest manufacturers,” and budget measures “that funneled extra dollars to everything from defense contractors to public utility companies to financial industry giants.”
The study showed that of the $410 billion in loans issued under the Troubled Asset Relief Program created in 2008, about 73 percent ($298 million) went to 16 of the 200 corporations on their list.
“Of the 200 corporations we examined, we could sum the financial rewards for 179,” said Sunlight. “Of those, 138 received more from the federal government than they spent on politics, 102 of them received more than 10 times what they spent on politics, and 29 received 1,000 times or more from the federal government than they invested lobbyists or contributed to political committees…”
As Sunlight pointed out, the Court said in the Citizens United ruling, “The appearance of influence or access will not cause the electorate to lose faith in our democracy.” A quick poll of most Americans proves this isn’t true. Most are disgusted with the way our government currently works, or rather the way it doesn’t